Daniel Delatte–Desert Solitaire Edward Abbey Blog

September 5, 2017

Desert Solitaire

  • How he describes the wilderness: pg. 1. “Abbey’s country, the red wasteland
    • life not crowded upon life pg 31
    • wilderness is a necessary part of civilization pg 58

Civilization vs wilderness:

Describes U.S. I60 as a place of rubbish. pg. 5

the ways the purpose of the park serv has been interpreted due to advancements  like autos…-what has become industrial tourism

“treat our forests and mountains as holier than churches” 65

Big emphasis on the creation of things naturally.

wants to know and possess and embrace the desert like a woman pg. 6- he was a womanizer though?

more than one way in which one can get lost (when you describe wilderness it doesn’t have to be a place lost in by direction): Abbey was lost in silence pg. 13.

  • abbey would rather kill a human than a snake “i’m a humanist” pg 20
    • but kills a rabbit and leaves it?? pg 41
  • he uses scientific names for everything he finds.
  • hates greenhouses and potted plants..

*doesnt care for ants* pg 32

  • what kind of man is abbey? small needs, infinite desires, and philosophic pretensions. pg 51
  • limit roads in wild by having gov programs that have ppl out of cars exploring like free bikes pg 66… i like to an extent but that defeats the purpose of camping if your providing everything and living through someone else.. not wild
  • “let them get lost, sunburnt, drown, eaten by bears” kinda wild bro 69
  • the sublime awe that he gets he relates it to God.

am i tyring to understand nature through abbeys eyes??

relationships between nature-organisms-other organisms

snake in trailer

moth and yucca plat

the arch and nature can either be for or against God’s existence… i like the spiritual take pg. 44

“whether we live or die is a matter of absolutely no concern whatsoever to the desert. let men in their madness blast every city on earth into black rubble and envelop the entire planet in a cloud of lethal gas–the canyons and hills the springs and rocks will still be here, the sunlight will filter through, water will form and warmth shall be upon the land and after sufficient time, no matter how long, somewhere living things will emerge and join and stand once again, this time perhaps to take a different and better course. in new mexico where our wise men had exploded the atomic bomb grass has returned.” 334



makes me want to go

“what little thinking i do is on gov time” lol pg 48

where rangers are going quietly nuts answering the same 3 q’s 500 times a day

i guess the level of sublimeness varies on what you are used to… i was amazed at the small things..just how clear the water was up north in minnesota and in the cascades

unlike to many authors (like the one cronon spoke of in the misconception), nature isn’t contaminated once human steps foot in it. that happens when roads are built through and developments that make for enjoyment that could have been done without.

cool quotes:

we are preoccupied with time. if we could learn to love space as deeply as we are now obsessed with time, we might discover a new meaning in the phrase to live like men. 72

controversial quotes:

so the indians will be back to take their land? “what about the indians? there are no indians in the arches country now; they all left seven hundred years ago, and wont be back for a long time.” 124

“the ancient canyon art of Utah belongs in that same international museum without walls which makes african culture, equally interesting…” 125 how do you feel about museums? take things from the world where from where they belong? burial mounds, sacred masks, etc.

the navajos still have a home of their own—the reservations.” 131 the land that they were moved off which everyone lives on while they’re given the land which no one wants? hoods, ghettos would be considered this then… i guess the do have it better a couple are lucky enough to have casinos

Link of pictures to relate to:


Allie Niemeyer Desert Solitaire and News

September 5, 2017



Desert Solitaire described a very different view of wilderness, preservation, and civilization than the Meadowlands.  I think Abbey’s opinion shows more of the frontier man attitude, taking on the “untouched” wilderness, only wanting those who will truly leave civilization behind in order to come to the park to experience it.  This is the more common viewpoint I think most “tree-hugger” environmentalists have.  Abbey finds his paradise in Arches, which does bring a new viewpoint, as most people cling to the beach or the mountains or the forest, but he clings to the desert.

I think this book shows more of the internal struggle that I feel when talking about wilderness than Meadowlands.  For example, Abbey talks about how he feels that there must be places set aside as wilderness that go unchanged by humans, or at least which aren’t “industrially toured” and are, rather, experienced like a frontier man would experience them.  He also says that the places should be set aside regardless of whether people have the ability to see them, simply for them to have the idea of the ability to escape to these places.  However, he feels that it is important for people to be a part of society as well as be a part of nature, and I think in this argument his ideas are not fully fleshed out.  Abbey feels very strongly about this point but because he is coming at the issue from a strictly environmentalist viewpoint he is missing the discussion on how to be a part of both worlds, and is only including how to separate yourself from society and why to do so.

Another thing that Abbey discusses is the idea that National parks should be, as was their original intent, and the original purpose of the parks department in regards to these parks, left essentially unaltered by humans.  This is an idea I have a hard time with, because I agree that when people tear down the forests to make roads or make bridges over land gaps and mess with the natural beauty of the land, that they are destroying an important aspect of the National parks.  However, I also understand that in terms of utilitarianism, when the parks are inaccessible to the majority of people, and are therefore being left unvisited, that they are not serving their economic purpose and that its really difficult to justify this to people who don’t care about the environment or who don’t have the opportunity to visit these places, and therefore only get the theory of these places.  I understand the difficulty and the necessity of setting these places aside, and so I have a hard time with this particular question of how much is acceptable to change for nothing but human entertainment.

I found it interesting that Abbey did talk about the dangers of the desert, the unpredictability, the poisonous species, the lack of water, the quicksand.  This was something brought up as an important part of wilderness, as opposed to nature, that I hadn’t really ever considered, because where I have been, there are trails, there are people removing poisonous species and placing them away from where the humans are, there are marked off areas of danger, and guard rails, so what I have considered wilderness has never given me a sense of danger, but just an idea of wonder and strange power.  However, I think that it is important to understand the danger of wild places, but I don’t know that it is particularly important to fear it.

I really liked the contemplation of what makes the desert unique, I thought that this was important because this is something that comes up a lot when people who don’t understand where you’re coming from when you talk about how great a place is or how different, or whatever, and I have come across similar questioning.  I agree that it is a difficult question to answer, and I think Abbey hits the nail on the head when he says that the problem is two-fold, because you not only have to figure out the exact thing that makes a place unique, which is kind of indescribable, and then you have to figure out why that indescribable uniqueness is different from other place’s indescribable uniqueness.

I also think it is worthwhile to discuss closing all the roads and only allowing people to bike or walk (66)


NEWS: New fruit varieties coming to market thanks to U of G research

In University of Guelph, Canada, there are researchers who have developed 2 new late-producing plum varieties, and 2 new early-producing peach species.  They believe that these may help with food sustainability in Canada, as currently their fruit produces a little bit after that of the US, so they are importing a large amount of fruit from the US, and these varieties could help curb that.  Additionally, these varieties, growing when they do, are more likely to be weather resistant because the peaches are ready for harvest before the variable conditions of the summer, in terms of drought, and the plums are later producing, also allowing them to avoid the variable summer weather.  They are hoping that the plants will go on the market as soon as possible.



Miranda Week 2: Desert Solitaire

September 4, 2017

Desert Solitaire Response:

According to Abbey: “A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself.” Abbey’s style of writing can be very slow and relaxing, but he also is very blunt. Abbey has strong opinions on tourism and how it is beginning of the end for the wilderness and desert beauty.

Abbey believes that the natural beauty of the desert can only be experienced through living there over an extended period of time and by closely observing it. I like how Abbey really focuses on the need for close human interaction with the wilderness. Going out into the desert should be about seeing natural beauty up close, instead of driving through it and glancing out of it through a car window.

Abbey sees the wilderness as being a “human necessity” , which needs to be preserved for all instead of being destroyed. While his idea of preserving nature may be unreasonable (eg. No more cars or new roads in national parks), Abbey really forces you to examine how much we are truly disrupting nature in our National Parks.

Overall, Abbey just wants the reader to understand how the cities we’ve built are slowly driving us insane.

Environmental News:

According to initial estimates, a spring frost (which some winemakers battled by setting fires in oil drums, which were then positioned between rows of budding grapevines) and an extreme heat wave, nicknamed ‘Lucifer’, are set to leave France and Italy with their smallest harvest for decades. In some regions yields will be down by 40%. However, there is optimism about quality. “Winemakers will be watching the skies over the next few weeks as they monitor the ripeness of their grapes.”


Garbology, Edward Humes: Max Kerns

December 15, 2016

Garbology by Edward Humes was a very enlightening read. What I thought was most thought provoking were the ideas surrounding the underworld of garbage removal. We often do not take time to think about where our garbage goes, how it is processed, or who even deals with it. The idea that every person living in the United States creates on average about 102 tons of garbage in a lifetime was staggering. It really made me think about my own personal garbage footprint and how much waste I create.

Some of the things I liked in the book:

I really liked the grey box highlights throughout the book. Things like Bea Johnson’s list on page 285, history of the plastic bag page 217, etc.

The Nerds Vs. Nurdles chapter was very interesting. It is hard to image that only a hundred years ago there was not plastic in the oceans. Now it is hard to look anywhere in the ocean and not find some trace of plastics. The great garbage patches in the ocean are insane. One of the issues is that so many large companies use plastics now for production and transportation of goods along with use in many products. It would be nearly impossible to go through the day without using plastics in some way.

The idea about landfills being an archeological connection to the cultures and civilization of different times was fascinating. I wonder what future generation will think when they uncover some of the many landfills through the country. I would think that we are currently living in a time of mass production and waste. In my hometown of Columbus you do not have to go far to find the landfill south of the city. It amazes me how that used to be farms and plains land. Now the ever growing hill of trash is impossible to miss. It once again made me think of how much trash I have created in my lifetime and how much of it resides in that heap. I think of celebrations, diners, and general life memories that are now slowing decaying under the pressure of more trash collection. It really is mind-blowing to think of where my trash ends up.

I think my favorite chapter was 12. I like the idea of simplifying one’s life and to reduce consumption. There is something very satisfying about reusing and fixing items that we have. I know in the last few years that I have tried to downsize my need of “things”. I try not to buy as much as I once did and rarely buy new items. I have found buying clothing and good from thrift stores is not only cheaper but gives items a second life. It made me think of local artist that use waste items to create art. I love the idea of making something old new again.

Finally, the book made me take a more serious look at how much waste there is in everyday life. Especially living on a college campus where convenience tends to dictate packaging. However one of the things that really get me going is the amount of junk mail, flyers, and general paper waste that is delivered to me daily. I have currently found no method of making this stop and it aggravates me to no end.   It seems silly to me that I have to accept this form of waste and have no control over it.


Notes on Reading: Meadowlands**

December 14, 2016


I honestly found this to be a fascinating read. The way he describes the Meadowlands and its history is honestly very interesting and it seems to be a weird combination of toxic dump/failed attempts at development and the stubbornness of ‘nature’ persevering through all of it. While it isn’t traditional wilderness it really does blur the line. There is no mistaking human influence and structures but it still has a sense of wild-ness to it that refuses to submit. The way in which he approaches and explores it is something I would honestly be interested in but to be honest it seems like he went through a lot and more in depth than many others (including myself) would likely go. It is admirable and I am kinda considering visiting there if I ever get the chance as although it may not be the exact same as when he visited, it is still something I would like to see for myself and maybe even study (as a person interested in Environmental Science).

Garbage Matters Notes + CurrentEvent

November 16, 2016

By Amanda Apicella

I found the ways in which the author divided up the approaches/views towards waste in various works to be pretty interesting and a pretty accurate/effective way to distinguish between these schools of thought. We have talked a lot in this class about divisions and viewing things as “separate” from humanity/us and where those divisions lie or if they are not entirely founded in reality (aka are arbitrary to varying degrees) so considering how often it comes up this is a significant distinction when it comes to topics like this. This time though it is our relationship with waste and how it is treated. Although none are necessarily “wrong” as the author states, it does give insight into different ways people view waste and how it relates to us/our society as a whole. Considering that I don’t often hear of people referring to waste in a positive manner due to the word’s connotations, It is interesting to see how many different ways it is viewed/addressed that I never really considered before (most of the time I hear about waste it is in the “waste as hazard” way of addressing it). The waste as a resource section was particularly relevant to me as I have always been interested in recycling and the extent/effects of it. The idea of viewing recycling and waste as a resource in terms of being similar to other cycles/systems that we also see in nature was something I was aware of but never really fully thought about to be honest. When it comes to “nature” we tend to think of everything as a cycle when it comes to animal waste/leavings and even death but when it comes to our own waste/leavings we tend to fall into the “one way street” way of thinking, even if it isn’t intentional. The waste as a commodity section was something I didn’t even realize was a “thing” so to speak as it just never seems to be thought of that way by people not familiar with it. The trade and market regarding waste considered hazardous just never really came to mind and I honestly plan to look into it more as it seems to be a fascinating topic.


Current Event: Study finds limited sign of soil adaptation to climate warming

Soil is releasing 9x more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than all human activities combined due to natural respiration of soil microbes/plant roots. Due to the increased temperatures of soil across all biomes, there is significantly increased respiration as well as releasing of stored carbon dioxide in previously frozen soil in the Arctic. Data regarding the effects on and of soil in relation to climate change is needed to be studied and gathered more extensively as they also need to obtain data from non/under-represented regions to include in the wider dataset. Considering the significance of their contribution to atmospheric greenhouse gases we already know about, this is a serious issue that we need to look more into and potentially find a way to address it (or at least mitigate the problems it will likely cause).

Pacia Purcell: Garbology

November 16, 2016

The book mentions a few alternatives to landfills. One such alternative is burning the trash to create energy that can be used. This is already done in some places such as Sweden and Connecticut. Not only does this practice cut back on the amount of trash that ends up in landfills, but it also provides alternatives to unsustainable practices of producing energy. At the creation of one large landfill mentioned in the book, the thought of using the trash to run a power plant was proposed, however was not put into action. Landfills are cheaper options and have a higher profit margin. People in this society are money crazy, because they have to be. Here in America and many other places around the world, you won’t go far without money, but you can go far by harming the environment. The world’s drive for money is causing an environmental crisis.

A great majority of the book dealt with the topic of plastic and mentioned how one woman researched the amount of plastic that ends up in our oceans and eaten by the wildlife. When plastic in the oceans is mentioned everyone thinks about those plastic rings that hold cans or bottles of pop together and how they end up wrapped around a turtle’s body or some poor penguin’s throat. However there is a lot more plastic in the water than what meets the eye. Small, unseeable particles of plastic are present throughout the water. These can come from many sources, but many are washed down the shower drain and come from your favorite hygiene products. Many soaps, shampoos, and face washes contain plastics that are unknowingly washed down the drain when you rinse off. Who knew that trying to be cleanly could be so bad for the environment? Some of these plastics are discarded into the ocean, where they are eaten unknowingly by fish, which can not only cause problems for the fish, but those who eat the fish also.

Humans rely heavily on plastic. Looking around my room I can’t help but notice all the things that are made of plastic and the things that probably contain plastic, but you just can’t be sure. Plastic is cheaper to produce than alternative materials in many situations. However, humans still overuse plastic for things that really need not exist. Many candies contain plastic parts from which you eat the candy off of. There are many little, cheap, plastic toys that are bought one day and thrown away the next. Many cheap plastic things are not made with the thought of do people need this, but rather do people want this? This makes people sound greedy and in truth they are. Why else would products that harm the environment be produced if humans did not necessarily need them? From human greed for more money and human greed for more material things. Plastic is a huge part of the composition of our landfills, and a lot of plastic that is produced could not be and humans would be just fine.